The US State Department has cleared the sale of four Raytheon Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA round to Japan.
The sales is considered a formality seeing as the Block IIA is being jointly developed for the US Navy and Japan. The new version is optimised for defence against medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and successfully completed its first test in Hawaii last February.
The missiles can be fielded from Japan’s Kongo-class Aegis destroyers, or from a land-based Aegis-ashore system which japan is also acquiring.
The approval comes in the wake of US President Trump’s visit to Japan last November, during which he expressed his frustration that Japan had not attempted to shoot down North Korean missile tests, and undertook to provide the necessary systems to Japan to defend itself against any missile threat.